All you need to know to Succeed in a Mountaineering Course
It was after completion of my Mountaineering course, in September 2019, few of my close friends in the trekking community requested to share my unique expereince and information about Adventure course, for course aspirants and in adventure fraternity. Due to hectic work schedule and traveling I was not able share my thoughts and life skills. The surprise & uncertain lockdown rekindled my spirits, to occupy myself and started to Penn down my experiences. Finally, I started, the whole scenario came before me and felt as if a dream came true. Much awaited, a handy guide to succeed in Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) and how to top with flying colors was out.
It is normal human tendency to get impressed and motivated by FB posts of mountains, blogs to sign up for a adventure course. First and the foremost thing is to have a clear ambition or goals in your mind as to why do you want to opt for a long and strenuous course?
when up teen other courses are available to choose for. Few want to do it to become a professional mountaineer, few are adventure enthusiasts who want to get out of boredom from their day to day life, that’s why they enroll in this course. Those who pursue it for bread and butter as profession in adventure .Few think that because of the govt backed subsidized rates they can actually do a high altitude trekking and get the feel of mountaineering too at an affordable price which no one can even think of if they have to go along with high altitude guides and porters, needless to say you have to set your priority first so that you can secure a grade A. (You can only do Advanced mountaineering course if you get grade A in BMC). So that time and energy spent is worthwhile too!
Once you have zeroed on that, next comes the admission part, there are only 6 mountaineering institutes in India and they are all run by the ministry of defence MOD with the State level Aid. You can do a research of your own on which one would you like to enroll yourself. Usually there is two years of waiting time in most of the institutes and for your information the decision of Institute, for right to admission is final. Below mentioned are those renowed Mountaineering Institutes you can opt for:
· Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi (NIM)
· Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling (HMI)
· National Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Arunachal Pradesh (NIMAS)
· Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering in Jammu and Kashmir (JIM)
· Atal Bihari Vajpai Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports ABVIMAS in Manali
· Indian Himalayan Center for Adventure and eco-tourism Sikkim (IHCAE)
Normally those who has never been to the Mountains or any Trekking, will be in a dilemma of what to pack for the course as duration will be about 28 days. This type of thinking is common for everyone until you get experience of it, it has happened with me as well and I packed a bit excess than required, and you will end up not using most of the stuffed items since it will be so cold out there in the base-camps that, you will hardly get the luxury or time of changing clothes every day.
My advice to you would be to pack bare minimum personal stuff as you will get plenty of equipment from the institute. Because all equipments you have to carry it yourself, and once you are moving up to the base camp, each and every item on those high altitudes will become a burden for you. That does not mean that you will not carry the essential items, there are certain things that you cannot cut from your packing list. So, make a minimal list and stick with it.
Fitness and your preparation for the course is prime important factor for your success in the course. Well my advice would be to start fitness regime, yoga, running daily for 5-10 kilometers, Push ups and squats and abdominal exercises three months prior to the course. Also, once you enroll for course and once its confirmed. You just follow them that is enough rather than going to a fancy gym and gaining up muscles.
Also, if possible, do some endurance training to strengthen your fingers and forearms which will help you in rock climbing like Chin-ups and Pull-ups will also help. Keep calm and Meditate!
Next comes the most important part is discipline and punctuality, trust me getting up 4’o clock from the bed every morning or reporting sharply at fall in. Any delay you will lead to punishment, no arguments. Just you need to accept it. As it’s a order! . Then comes one more important part which I would like to emphasize a lot is your tolerance level. You will be trained mostly by the high altitude mountain instructors who follow a military regime, also your batchmates (you will be in a team of 7-8 members who will be your rope mates) who will come from all across the country, so your success depends on a large extent on how you perform, gel with them and become a part of a team.
What I have observed over the years is that whatever your mind and body can conceive and believe it can achieve. So during the initial days of the course it will take some time for you to adjust with schedule and the surroundings. Give your mind and body that space. Cultivate patience! Do not jump into a conclusion rather than take your own sweet time to acclimatize yourself to the situation. Always think that course is for your overall development and honing your personality.
Once you step in to there the institute premises, you will be allocated place of residence, briefed everything during fall in. Donts and donts to be followed and adhered to during course. You will provided with first set of few outdoor and rock climbing practice gear below for course.
Equipments list for Course
1. Rucksack 60 litres
2. Carabiners both screw and Plain
3. A pair of Jummar
5. Water bottle
6. Seat Harness
7. Figure of 8 or Descender
8. Rock climbing shoes
9. Short sling
10. Tape sling
Equipments required for the course will be given to each trainee at the Institute, that you will need for the next 28 days. All equipments are returnable and any loss or damage will be charged. My advice to you would be, to be very careful, handle with care, do not misplace. Use gear under guidance of instructor only. At the end of the course you have to give each and everything back to the institute. The institute will not listen to any excuses if you have lost, mIsplaced. Mountaineering equipments are expensive and you might end up paying a hefty amount, which has to be borne by you. Take care of equipments and handle it responsibly.
I would like to make one point very clear in your head that from the time you stepped into the institute premises, till the time your course ends, you will be under obeservation very closely by the instructors , you will be judged at the end of the course.
‘Without discipline, it's impossible to achieve any kind of success;
whether it's in your personal life or in your professional life’
Hence, I am suggesting few things to consider during your course time
o Follow the Aclimitization procedure.
o From Day-1 drink plenty of water and fluids to keep yourself hydrated. Don’t neglect it.
o Never be late for the fall-in.
o Be a team player. (Mountaineering is not an individual sport)
o Do not skip any session unless you are not seriously ill.
o Take the theory and practical sessions very seriously. Be attentive!
o Avoid arguments and fights among your batch mates during training period
o Always try to be an extra lending hand for those you seek help
o Avoid falling sick by keeping yourself protected against cold
o Borrow books from Library and educate yourself and return intact, promptly
o Don’t skip your meals, unless you have any issues, maintain hygiene and take care of your health
o Report any issues to Rope leader, course instructor immediately
o If you have any medical history like high B.P etc do not hide it from the institute medical team.
There will be fitness session every day, hiking and, revision session of knots, rock climbing (both artificial wall climbing and Rock craft session) activities followed by theory classes and movies shows during the evening time for the first few days at the Institute.
Also, evenings will mostly be spent on daily, talks medical briefing followed by check-ups. The doctors will check your blood pressure and pulse rate on a regular basis. You are not supposed to conceal of any injuries, Medical issues internal or external. You need to report to rope leader or Instructor. If any serious issue, on doctors consent you will be sent back.
If you are homesick. There is provision of sending or receiving post cards to your family or next kith and kin, call from institute too.
There will be an endurance run or hike with a 15-20 Kg backpack on the steep hills and the instructors will evaluate you on the basis of your performance. A medical test also be done at Campsite, by doctor at Institute. Any health issues, individual will not be allowed to go further. Again a few additional equipments will be allocated to individual for further training and practice skills before heading to training area in the Mountains.Cross Check for any damage and size of shoes. Shoes should have a snug with movement of toe, a size bigger than normal size ir recommended usually, so that you can replace before you leave institute.
12. Mess tin
13. Wind proof Jacket and trouser
14. Figure of 8 or Descender
16. Sleeping bag
17. Carry Mat
18. Ice Hammer
19. Tiffin Box
20. Short sling
21. Tape sling
23. Ice Axe
24. Ice Pitton
25. Rock Pitton
26. Steel Mug
27. Snow boots
Then comes the most important day when you will be asked to packup and get ready to move to mountains for training, and the real adventure begins…
End of Part 1 To be continued…